All The Galaxy’s A Stage: Species and RP
All The Galaxy’s A Stage is a regular column at Ask A Jedi with some lofty, creative goals. On one hand, we will be discussing and exploring meaningful topics to support the role-play experience and community. On the other hand, we also want to introduce the casual Role-Player to the writing-acting experience that can add so much more to an MMORPG like Star Wars: The Old Republic. Share your perspectives and experience as we co-create magical story in that galaxy far, far away!
Do you remember the first time you watched A New Hope, and the heroes walked into the Mos Eisley cantina? I do. And given how soon this scene had followed the giddy moment of Obi-Wan’s hand waving I knew I was watching a very, very special film.
Are you one of those who when you heard SW:TOR was being developed thought that you’d get to role-play [insert exotic alien here] species? I recognize that there may be some of you that are lamenting the lack of playable Togruta, Bothans and Nautolans, to name but a few, in the game. However, this article is not about rehashing the design choice or the subsequent justification that Daniel Erickson keeps offering. As a Role-Player I’ve spent many nights over the past 30 years pretending I’m not human, and pride myself on my ability to relate to the character regardless of species. However, role-players are not the majority.
Like many a role-player I spent some time thinking about what role-playing an alien species in SW:TOR would mean. As I started my mental exploration a series of questions came to mind faster than a smuggler looking to talk up the price. I started with asking myself if I’d portray a non-playable race?
My initial reaction was, why not? After all, if I had this amazing Mon Calamari trooper in mind (maybe I love my fish?) and RP is all about creating story using your imagination then what’s the problem? However, I also realized that there would be many interesting situations where other players would not know my character was a Mon Calamari. And since I’m not a fan of relying on OOC and tells to make a point with strangers in RP I realized my preference would be to focus on RPing the same species as my avatar.
The next question concerned my choice of species for my main character. Sa Chi, my Jedi Sage, is Miraluka. As soon as this species was announced as playable I just had to try it on for size. I guess that after all these years of role-playing that I still enjoy something that is going to present a fresh challenge. And I was captivated with the idea that Miraluka use Force Sight to see.
From there a whole new set of questions started to arise. For example, how does one emote and play out the sensory input for a Miraluka? After all, as humans we relate to images captured by the eyes and interpreted by the brain. Role-play, and in particular emoting, takes on a whole new dimension (literally) around mundane things such as blinking, using your eyes to convey emotions, or seeing things and responding to them.
Like any good role-player I did my research. I started by reading up on Force Sight. What I read amazed me. The innate approach by Miralukans to seeing the world includes enhancing the bearer’s visual and spatial perception even in the dark or behind walls, as well as countering Force persuasion and Force blinding powers. But what I was more interested in was the use of this power by the Miraluka to “constantly to compensate for their physical blindness.” Force Sight won’t allow colours to be perceived but will distinguish between organics (including the dead) and their alignment from the surrounding environment by auras. Objects like walls and doors appear translucent, effectively allowing them to see through them. The big realization was that Force Sight would require me to learn a new way of relating to the world because everything my character sees is from the perspective of energy and auras.
After a year of role-playing with this character I have to confess that the enforced Force Sight has become one of the most invigorating elements of playing this character. I always have to be aware with even the simplest of emotes.
What are your thoughts around role-playing alien species? Have you had similar experiences you’d like to share? Do you plan on suspending belief and role-playing a non-playable species?